It started with the shoes.
This past week, I have been streamlining our very existence. And it started in Zach’s closet as I packed up the outgrown clothes that had been loaned to us so they can be returned. And I saw the shoes. 16 pair of Pediped shoes, in various infant sizes, all of which Zach had outgrown. I lingered on them a bit. They were so cute and I remembered when he was that small for just a minute. And then I put them into a bin and moved on to the next thing. Newborn swaddlers. The source of the sleep-filled nights when he was a newborn and none of the other new parents out there were getting any. And the Boppy with which I used to nurse him. And so on, throughout Zach’s room. I tried to do this before and couldn’t. The obscene amount of tiny newborn clothes still filled Rubbermaid totes all over this house because I couldn’t stand the thought of getting rid of them. And so I started going through those as well. I kept a few things like the outfit he wore on the trip home from the hospital and the little Ralph Lauren one-piece he wore in his newborn portraits. He’ll have those when he is an adult. But the rest? It went into the bins, also. And I took all of it to a consignment shop and got rid of it. I made room for new things. The walking toys Zach is really starting to use now as he finally pulls himself up to stand and is starting to find his legs, the bigger sizes of clothes he will be wearing when he starts to take his first real steps. New, new, new.
How fitting can you get?
Out with the old and in with the new.
Now, before I say what it is I am about to say, I want to first say that I have no intention of offending anyone who might read this, and if you start to feel offended, please read it all before you come to any conclusions. But I was never this person. I honestly thought the whole organic, extra-crunchy, all-natural stuff was silly. My mom never got into any of that with any of her 7 kids, and we were all healthy. Natural childbirth? What? Why, when there are such good drugs out there? I have said similar things as recently as when I was pregnant with Zach. I think it was my way of coping with the fact that I have never had a normal pregnancy. I would tell you I didn’t give a damn as long as the baby was healthy.
I lied. I cared. Oh, I cared a lot. And I wouldn’t even admit it to myself. So imagine my surprise when I feel this deep sadness after Zach’s birth, all over the experiences I will never have. I never dreamed I would be that person. But I was. I literally had some symptoms of PTSD. Seriously. I would wake up in a cold sweat after having nightmares. It took until Zach was about 6 months old for me to stop having flashbacks. I would feel needle sticks in my hips all of the time. And I felt like I was the biggest wuss on the planet each and every time. And I was too embarrassed to admit this to anyone. I alluded to it and that is all. I endured a lot of pain for my children. For both Evan and Zach. And don’t get me wrong: I would do it all again for either one of them. But even though I would love to have a little girl someday, I will never do it again. I will not put myself, my husband, my children through that. This is a big change from what I said when Zach was smaller. I said almost immediately that I wanted another one. Not anymore.
So what has happened? Well, I realized that the reason I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of Zach’s newborn things is that I was trying to hold on. To the experience of pregnancy and new baby, the hope of a normal childbirth experience. I just couldn’t let it go. (I also think the emotional trauma of losing Ben so early in his life has something to do with this, but I cannot even scratch the surface of that because is and always will be a part of who I am.) But as I sat in Zach’s bedroom floor, going through the tiny sleepers and onesies that I had previously latched onto, I realized how silly I was being. I don’t need tiny outgrown shoes or sleepers. I have Evan. I have Zach. And just like I needed to rid myself of some of the outgrown things that had accumulated in order to make room for the new, I also had to let go of those feelings. Because there are so many new things coming our way: Zach’s first steps, first tooth, first real word, first birthday. And Evan will be 10 years old this year. One whole decade! My baby! Such wonderful memories are coming my way as my life with these two miracles continues to unfold before my very eyes. And I need the room. I need to let that weight go so I can move on.
I will always remember. My pregnancies took so much out of me. So much more than the average woman has to give of herself to become a mother. I never could understand why that was. I always had such bitterness about that. And now I finally get it. I had to give more of myself, but in my eyes, my kids are so much more than the average. And it was so worth it.
And so here I am, 9 and 1/2 years after Evan’s birth and 10 months after Zach’s. And I have finally let go. I’m healed and whole. And just like it took every ounce of my being for those boys to make it into the world, I love them with every ounce of my being now.